Massivedynamic.co
Community Supervision

The Marshall Project recently published an article that touches on a bill passed by the Illinois legislature requiring community corrections officials to maintain and publish data on electronic monitoring of former prisoners, including racial makeup and rates of recidivism. The bill was passed due to a hearing in which “advocates and legislators criticized the misuse of electronic monitoring, as an independent report showed how little data the Prisoner Review Board and Department of Corrections kept on those they placed on tracking devices.” Because of this, it is now required that the board and department produce an annual report of those who are electronically monitored and for what reason. It was a necessary step to take as community corrections officials admit they have little evidence to support that the ankle bracelets are being used to show the location of former inmates and protecting public safety. Considering the state of Illinois does not have a parole system and instead requires a period of supervised release for those who have finished their sentence, it is important that they have a functioning and secure system to monitor former prisoners with. With many companies not tracking their clients and using the data collected to improve services, TRACKtech has taken the initiative to provide a better solution to monitor clients.

TRACKtech,LLC provides community supervisors the ability to monitor the location of its program members through real-time check-ins and store the data to provide supervisors access to it when they need. Supervisors can monitor the program member’s pattern of life and at risk behavior through video conferencing and behavioral health assessments. Dynamic geo-fencing helps keep program members in or away from specific locations at appropriate times, notifying the supervisor if a location violation has occurred. Community supervisors have easy access to their entire caseload in TRACKcase, allowing them to monitor and track all program members. Ultimately, the ease of TRACKtech technology avoids misuse of monitoring and helps rehabilitate those under supervision. TRACKtech strives to provide solutions to better manage and improve success of program members while increasing public safety.

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Community Supervision

Community supervision, such as probation and parole, is beneficial in lowering the fiscal impact of prisons and reducing overcrowding while helping people reintegrate into society. While community supervision has been considered an effective way to tackle prison populations, new data shows that parole and probation might be having adverse effects. A concerning reality of the probation and parole violations effects on prison populations has been discovered in a new analysis provided by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center. These numbers are taken from corrections and community supervision leaders in 50 states and develops the first thorough look into the effects of these violations.

In 2017 there were a total of 590,234 admissions, 45% of which were due to technical violations or new offenses of probation or parole. A technical violation is misconduct by a person under supervision that by itself is not considered a criminal offense and usually does not result in an arrest. These include failing to report for an appointment with a supervision officer, failing a drug test, missing a curfew, contacting a victim, or lack of employment. Technical violations are responsible for nearly 1/4 of all state prison admissions, which can result in very hefty fees. Nearly 280,000 people are incarcerated on any given day in result of a supervision violation, costing states over $9.3 billion annually.

TRACKTech™ is working to reduce these violations by making it easier for supervisors and offenders to better communicate and avoid technical violations. Our products help with the rehabilitative process and making sure program members do not violate their parameters, continually check-in remotely with officers through biometric verification and have the ability to video conference with supervisors. They are constantly sent calendar reminders for appointments, court dates, meetings with supervisors and various other needs to alleviate the excuse of forgetting or not knowing the offender had them scheduled. Rehabilitative support is provided in an array of assessments and can suggest targeted therapeutic materials to the program member, while also aiding with obtaining employment and attending community groups. With TRACktech, supervisors can keep their program members under better supervision and reduce the risk of them receiving technical violations for controllable reasons.

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Community Supervision

Visits between parolees and their probation officers have been an instrumental part of the criminal justice system. The goal has always been to promote rehabilitation while keeping the public safe. But is this worth the countless hours parole officers spend driving to see their clients while facing safety risks during curfew checks at night in rough neighborhoods?

Are unscheduled visits more effective? Is it more productive to have visits at home or the workplace? Are these extra lengths worth the immense caseload? With all these factors on the table, answers to these questions are critical. An insightful recent study gauged the effectiveness of these practices. The evaluation consisted of data analysis, examination of officer’s visit checklists, interviews and focus group discussions. Though the results were promising, they did not give sufficient answers to the underlying questions. It is increasingly difficult to evaluate a visit between a parolee and their officer. The results varied greatly between jurisdictions.

An online survey by the American Probation and Parole Association in accordance with community supervision authorities in Ohio and Minnesota was sent to corrections departments. An online survey was also sent to all 50 states in an attempt to get a firmer grasp on the struggles of parole meetings and their effectiveness on rehabilitation. Thankfully, field visits overall seemed to decrease recurrence. In Ohio, people who have been contacted in the field by their parole officer at least once have had a reduction of 47% in returning to prison within two years, and a decrease of 54% in returning to prison for the rest of their life.

Some of the other results from the survey between Ohio and Minnesota were concerning, however. Supervision officers stated that they preferred field contacts at the home of the offender, so that they can understand the client’s environment, but also liked visits at their place of employment as well. This was to ensure compliance with their work requirements and helps to avoid a client having to take time off work. Which is more effective? Which is less disruptive to a client’s life and routine? Unscheduled visits in Ohio were equally as effective as scheduled ones, while in Minnesota the unscheduled visits led to significant reductions in recidivism. Why such a drastic change?  In Ohio, evidence-based practices such as motivational interviews during field contacts were important for alleviating recurrence, but in Minnesota they had no impact.

There are many variables, but the results clearly show that field visits are a critical practice to reducing recidivism. More thorough programs that assist probationers and parolees while protecting the public is crucial. There are 9.3 million people on community supervision in the United States, and over 200 caseloads per officer. These numbers are overwhelming, and with the recent changes to mass incarceration, parole is becoming even more common. TRACKtech’s revolutionary app, TRACKphoneLite (TpL), has been proven to reduce caseloads for officers while streamlining critical visits. Stressful, time-consuming traveling and dangerous evening visits are a thing of the past for officers utilizing this application. With TpL’s video conferencing system, officers can be shown around the client’s home, look in their fridge, etc. while talking face to face with the client. The application also employs a check-in system, so clients can verify their location whenever requested by their officer, negating the need for curfew visits.

Visitation is not the only aspect of parole that this intuitive application assists with. It can also help to provide rehabilitative support and behavioral health assessments tailored to each specific client. TpL monitors compliance, tracks locations, and assists with remote meetings while ensuring that the public is safe. All of the information gathered is sent to TRACKcase, lessening the strain on an officer’s caseload immensely. TRACKtech’s platform enhances the capabilities of officials and agencies in implementing individualized and responsive case plans with a more expansive spectrum of data and workflow automation, connecting program members (supervised individuals) to prosocial and communal resources, satisfying criminogenic needs, and reducing the chance of recidivism. Reaching out to those on probation and parole is imperative to increasing their chances of becoming a successful citizen of their community, and TRACKtech is here to help – one future at a time.

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Community Supervision

The sheer multitude of technical innovation in the last century has transformed almost every aspect of contemporary life, from GPS and social networking to touch screen smart phones.  Society has moved on, why hasn’t compliance monitoring technology?

Improvements in electronic technology and the increasing pressure of prison costs, overcrowding and recidivism rates has made the prospect of offender monitoring much more appealing. To date, electronic monitoring has been primarily used as a way of providing the location of offenders but not much else. To some who have successfully reintegrated into the community, ankle monitors are incarceration by another name. They are expensive, unsightly, and automatically show the public that the person wearing it has been in trouble with the law. By utilizing electronic monitoring in the form of a smart phone, offenders are more easily accepted into the community and can foster confidence in their rehabilitation.

With innovations in technology, such as the TRACKphone™, supervising officers can dispense positive reinforcement and rehabilitative support while enforcing compliance. Offenders equipped with the TRACKphone™ are verified with biometric identity confirmation and are given behavioral assessments to evaluate their risk score.  Trends in their usage of the phone can be identified and provide their supervisor with valuable insight into what specific therapeutic materials would most benefit the offender. Cognitive behavioral therapy and rehabilitative support enhances the offender’s quality of life and significantly reduces their chance of committing another crime and returning to prison.

One of the largest advantages with innovative electronic monitoring is the ability to maintain necessary control of individuals in the community while providing them the opportunity to maintain family ties, employment, and self-improvement.

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Community Supervision

The youth of today are our future and giving them resources to become a better generation is critical. In California, the new Governor, Gavin Newsom, disclosed his plans to improve the future of the youth in our juvenile justice system. His proposal is to move the Division of Juvenile Justice from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to the Human Services Agency. This change would enable the state to concentrate on supporting youths with overcoming their trauma, acquiring life skills and pursuing education rather than penalizing them. In an announcement released by his office, Gavin struck a chord with a powerful statement that the justice system should be focused on helping kids pursue new and better lives, not jumpstarting the revolving door of crime.

California has repeatedly attempted to revamp its juvenile detention facilities without any great success, according to Daniel Macallair, Center Executive Director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. He believes that all the juvenile offenders should be put under county supervision and receive rehabilitative services within their own communities, allowing them to remain close to their relatives and receive more preparation to reenter society. The perception of punitive practices over rehabilitation is prevalent in our justice system, and it has been proven that this does not lead to real change. Marlene Sanchez, Associate Director of the Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice advocacy group, stated that she has hopes for the state’s juvenile detention centers to be closed then open again as rehabilitation centers where young people can seek education and receive mental health and substance abuse treatment. Programs providing rehabilitation and support is imperative to making a real change in those in our justice system, especially our youth.

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Recidivism

The dilemma of recurrence is a complex but urgent one. Not only have many people who leave prison lost valuable years of their life, most have little to no support to fulfill their basic needs upon reentry. Those who want to make a better life, often lack the tools to do so. A new community and law enforcement project in Shelby, North Carolina, seeks to help their citizens regain a fulfilling and successful life outside bars.

In the next five years, an average of 76% of Cleveland County individuals who commit a crime and are sent to prison will reoffend. In one year, half of them usually reoffend, according to Katie Munger, the head of the RESET program. RESET Coordinator, Christy Dunbar, will assist 10 to 15 people chosen by the parole officials and other agencies through an application process. Her goal is to guide and assist with finding anything they need from drug rehab to work clothes. RESET hopes to establish a mentorship after a year between the first group who has successfully completed the program with those who have just been released.

RESET has already begun the process of evaluating previous inmates in order to see who is a good fit for the program. More than two dozen community agency representatives have offered their assistance in the program. Each community outlet can help with an issue that a person is struggling with after their release, such as substance abuse, job training, or social skills. Together, these community outlets could collectively help a person with all the barriers they are facing in re-entering their community.

While RESET aims to support individuals during the reentry process, recidivism is a huge problem that cannot be tackled alone. TRACKTech could be utilized to automate the distribution of more rehabilitation resources and our intuitive “pattern of life” data can be used to provide more accurate and streamlined information to assist with evaluating a program member’s progress on successful reentry into their community.

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Recidivism

According to the Tennessee Department of Correction, the delinquent population in Tennessee has increased by 11.7% in the past 5 years. On March 1st, 2019, a state grant provided support in the amount of $250 thousand to a Dyer County Jail program which aims to reduce recidivism. Funds were also awarded to Franklin County, Knox County and the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance. Over a period of two years, each facility will receive two-thirds of the $250 thousand to begin new programs or expand current ones. The Dyer County Jail collaborates with a local college, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and industry partners to facilitate the program.

These funds will be used to build a new female facility, which will be modeled after their very successful male facility. The female facility will contain 10 inmates and a classroom space, compared to the current 30 inmates in the male facility. The program aims to allow inmates with sentences of one to three years the ability to work while they are incarcerated so they can accrue funds to pay for child support, fees, and court fines. Most inmates that partake in the program will have enough funds to establish housing and become a productive and successful member of society once they are released. Dyer County Sheriff, Jeff Box, has stated that about 100 inmates have completed the program since its initiation, and technical violations such as failing to pay fines for violating probation are much less prevalent.

Reducing recidivism is a constant struggle. It is our belief that those re-entering our communities require more support than they have been receiving, and this program will be imperative to providing inmates with work experience and knowledge necessary to thrive after incarceration. Programs such as this are a huge step towards providing prisoners with a better chance for a successful and fulfilling life when they are released.

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Community Supervision

Despite changes and reforms in the treatment of those prosecuted and detained in jails, our legal system is still riddled with dilemmas and uncertainty. Though much reform has occurred in the past year and a half, Co-Executive Director of the Chicago Community Bond Fund, Sharlyn Grace, stated that there are still concerns about the more than 2,000 people in Chicago that are supposed to be tracked under electronic monitoring. Grace insists that there is no research confirming if electronic monitoring is effective, but that ankle monitors cause a very serious restriction on liberty. Lavette Mayes, who was under electronic supervision for five months, stated that ankle monitors are just little miniature jails in the community. There is a thin line between public safety and the rights of the accused.

The goal of our criminal justice system is to improve public safety and to ensure that justice is properly and impartially administered. But how far is too far when it comes to the rights of those under electronic supervision?

Theoretically, ankle monitors are an appealing alternative to jail and provide the chance to be in the community with family and friends, but they also seem to deprive people of their rights and liberties  to a certain point. Ankle monitors require hours of charging or the offender risks being sent back to jail, so they often must stand by a public outlet and charge their ankle monitor while enduring the judgement of those around them. The monitors are also incredibly expensive, sometimes costing up to $40 per day. This exorbitant cost can keep someone from being able to pay their bills and cover basic needs. This can result in a higher risk of ending up back in jail or becoming entangled in crime as a last resort, causing a more prudent threat to public safety.

Despite the increase in usage of ankle monitors, there is a lack of extensive research to suggest that ankle monitors inherently keep the public safe to the extent that this intrusion of rights is warranted. Punitive technology is not addressing the root of the problems that people face and why they end up in prison. Instead of punishing these people, we should be using technology to help them to create better and healthier lives.

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Justice Reform

In Cook County, IL, there are more accused criminals monitored by electronic ankle bracelets than the rest of the Illinois Corrections Department statewide, 300 plus of which are missing from the monitoring program, according to documents ABC7Chicago obtained from the Cook County Sheriff.  Almost 50% of those who are currently on ankle bracelet monitoring are accused of either violating gun laws or committing violent crimes.

One of these offenders is Jovany Galicia, a convicted felon with an extensive criminal history. He was awaiting trial on gun and assault charges. The 26-year-old was listed as an armed and habitual criminal on the county records, yet he was still placed on an ankle bracelet.  Electronic monitoring through the form of an ankle bracelet for violent criminals awaiting trial or on parole poses a high risk for public safety. Not to mention, how many of the 300 missing monitored offenders are violent? 

Ankle monitors can be a reliable way to track and maintain those accused with non-violent crimes awaiting trial, however, offenders with violent crimes or gun violations require more attention and monitoring than those with less serious crimes. While an ankle monitor provides a location on a map, it lacks the capability to assist offenders with reintegrating into their communities. To make a real change in the effectiveness of electronic monitoring on high risk and violent offenders, new technologies must be utilized. TRACKTech provides not only GPS location monitoring but also real-time information on offenders, risk factor scoring, compliance monitoring, and rehabilitative support.

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Jail Overcrowding

Although the bond reform in Illinois has reduced prison overcrowding substantially, it may be detrimental to public safety. According to Cara Smith, the Chief Policy Officer for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, keeping track of the 300 offenders who have removed their ankle bracelets is a challenge that has gotten much more difficult since bond reform. An order was made in 2017 by the Cook County Chief Judge, Tim Evans, that would require judges to set affordable bonds for defendants that did not pose a danger to the public.

Bond reforms have become very prevalent in many states and Illinois is no different. Elected officials have been trying to release those who were being detained in Cook County Jail while they await trial. Unfortunately, this has caused an increase in violent offenders with serious criminal histories being released early. Tristian Hamilton, a convicted felon with a criminal history of gun charges and aggravated robbery, was released with electronic monitoring, and he went AWOL in December 2018, without any form of supervision or communication of his whereabouts. Smith insists that this problem is one that not only the sheriff’s office should be concerned with, but the whole county stakeholders. A terrifying dilemma to this extent directly impacts public safety and it is a collateral response to reform.

Reliable technology is necessary to manage this complicated result of reform, especially for high risk, violent offenders. Reliable accountability for the whereabouts of these offenders is necessary to ensure they are taking the proper steps towards reintegration into their communities and ceasing their life of crime. 

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